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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kyron's stepmom hires Steve Houze

Wow. I wonder who's going to pay for this. Media interviews are over, boys and girls. Probably police interviews, too.

Do Houze's clients ever confess to anything? Yesterday I thought this case would be wrapped up in a few weeks. Now it looks like an ordeal of months, even years, is ahead.

Meanwhile, a team of civilian search dogs has been out on Sauvie Island, retracing the official search for Kyron.

Comments (30)

Smartest thing she could have done.

But at least two weeks too late. The sheriff is clearly in the driver's seat now.

I guess she was playing "nothing to worry about" to try to keep the bio-parents from realizing the truth. Two polygraphs and probably lots of babbling later, she has dug herself a deep, deep hole.

On a brighter note, if Houze gets her off she can be the next mayor of Portland.

A person being scrutinized in a police investigation faces an uphill battle. Answering all questions may just dig yourself in deeper. Getting legal representation makes you appear to have something to hide.

Of course having your spouse flee the home in fear of their safety during the investigation doesn't help the situation any. Becoming a suspect (not that anyone's calling her that) in a high profile crime must really suck.

Especially if you're guilty.

"Houzed up"!

I did NOT see that coming.

That license plate # is too much.

I'm surprised that they didn't blur it out, but it is a classic.

Here's an interesting exercise, and I know it'll seem pointless for most of Portland:
Think of a way she could be innocent.
First, the biggest problem I had was the lack of a message. I'm sure they really urged her to make one as the cops get a good chance to see a suspect and assess if there is lying going on. Who can forget Susan Smith?

If you thought a loved one or the kidnapper could possible hear you on TV, wouldn't you insist on speaking out and pleading for mercy with the captives?
So that part looks bad for sure.

But what I thought was the weakest jump in the blog world's case, was the leap from, "She went to Sauvie Island" to "She went to Sauvie Island to bury the boy she killed." That was an automatic in most blog comments.

And that's giving total credit to the reliability of cellphone pings. It was interesting reading all the new experts in the technical area on cellphone pings. I still don't know, but forget that for now - let's assume it's true she went to Sauvie Island and she was evasive about why.

If I had to construct a theory of innocence I would focus on another reason she went there. People lead complicated lives. What if she dropped the kid off just as she said, then headed out to meet a third party for something that could destroy her marriage and the third party's family? That could explain her lack of candor about Sauvie Island. It could also explain why the marriage is now on the rocks. Maybe she finally got to the point where she told her husband the real reason. See, if she did do it, why take the lie detector tests? Why not lawyer up from Day 1? I could explain some of her actions with a separate secret she wanted to keep. People lead complicated lives.

The main question I have is - if she did do it - was this a carefully planned out crime or a sudden snapping? I've heard bloggers discuss it both ways.

If this was a planned out thing and she did it, then I'll go through a phase of hating her. I don't care what the medical reasons are.

But I can't make myself believe she would do this to that nice kid. I just can't.
I guess that's how I want it. I never want to be able to understand how these things happen.

The secret lover on Sauvie Island is being circulated as a possible exculpatory scenario. But when your kid's disappeared and they're slapping the polygraph on you, don't you give that up right away? Your choices are (1) your husband finds out you've cheated on him, or (2) he hears from the cops that you've killed his son and you face the death penalty. You go with (2), and you stick with it for weeks, when loverboy on Sauvie can get you off the hook?

Besides, look at this person. I'm open to suggestion about what is possible.

I can only think of two interconnected reasons why he took this case:

1. Slam dunk win with no body, no confession, and a lack of evidence placing her guilty beyond a reaasonable doubt.

2. Publicity.

Whether it goes to trial or is dropped, Houze wins.

You're right about that last part. Houze himself always wins.

But his clients don't always. Dr. Death just went down, down under.

The fact that there is no body yet doesn't mean there won't ever be one. Same for a confession. Rational clients will take a lawyer's advice and refrain from confessing except in exchange for a good plea deal. But not all clients are rational.

What I don't get is where the money's going to come from to pay Houze. This couple doesn't have Steve Houze kind of money lying around, and now there's at least one divorce attorney and probably two tapping into Kaine Horman's salary. Not to mention an infant who now may need a nanny.

A case at this level of notoriety isn't likely to be "dropped."

Lawyer speculation... for grins... if Houze won this, he'd seal his rep forever and ever so maybe money is not the only reason he is taking the case.

Years ago in another part of the US, I know of a case where an ill-tempered homeowner who was having a property dispute with a neighbor shot and killed a state trooper. Lawyer was from city. Area was rural, red necked etc. At the time, killing a cop was a capital offense in that state. Cop was called to disturbance. Left. Came back later in the day without being called back and got shot. His weapon and killer's weapons were both discharged. You'd have thought it was a shut and closed murder one. However, atty really did a job with jury and it came down to Man 2. Atty involved actually did have one famous case, the one the movie Agnes of God is based on. The real story for this movie happened in the Roch, NY area

I confess, I agree with Bill on a a lot of his points. I don't want what seems obvious to be true.
On the other hand 3 weeks ago the Columbia River was running at about 4 knots and was very high. One could dump stuff (or a body or body parts) on the beaches out there and they could be gone and be out to sea in a matter of hours. The problem with high water is that eventually it goes down and sometimes debris is left behind. Who knows what will be discovered in 6 weeks.
I just hope that human remains are not discovered.

Bill raises some good points. But, even criminally insane people can make and complete elaborate plans. And money for lawyers to save your life (or make a break from a bad one and start anew) can (and often does) come from family.

You write, "But when your kid's disappeared and they're slapping the polygraph on you, don't you give that up right away?"
I could see her avoiding it for as long as possible - hoping what happened to Kyron came to light first - especially if she doesn't know about the pings during the first lie detector test.
Did she really take another test? I don't get that.
I'm just pondering this as a crime movie where everything points to the wrong person. There are so many details that are right out of a script. I know in the real world there's usually a good reason it all points to one person, but every now and then, real life is like a movie.
I could also see a scenario where the FBI bluffs about what it knows. That's a standard technique. Let's say they want the husband and the stepmom to turn on each other hoping to isolate her. Not every little thing they say to the people in an interrogation is true. Maybe they convinced her husband of her guilt as a strategy.

The bodybuilding shot bolsters the steroid rage argument - the sudden temper outburst where she hurts the kid.
But there are a lot of comments about this as a carefully planned act resulting from post child-birth depression. Which is it? Planned or sudden rage?

If this was a planned act and she had the kid wear a CSI t-shirt that morning, that points to some deep mental issues. Then we are in a psycho twisted evil area.

I guess what I'm saying is that the details of this thing are right out of a crime novel. There's a reason the story went national. But in weighing the evidence you have to factor this in:

There are people out there - predators - who hurt children. That's what they do.
The motivation for one of them taking Kyron - once they were identified and their past described - would make a lot more sense than the idea of this woman who raised the kid waking up one day and saying, "I think I'll kill him."

I'm not saying she didn't do it, but at least predators usually have a track record.
As horrible as their motivations are, there's a consistency of behavior missing in a step-mother suddenly turning into a child killer.

"It could also explain why the marriage is now on the rocks"

A love tryst is possible, but not likely the sole reason for his departure from the home. Dad clearly thinks she did it, even if we don't. The reason is because his actions (lacking any public explanation of a love tryst) lend even more suspicion to the theory step-mom is responsible, and takes away from any real search effort for his son.

I think a smart cop would take Bill's theory and run with it though. Think of all the ways she could be innocent. That way you can answer Mr. Houze's questions on the stand intelligently when the time comes.

The memory of Richard Jewell haunts me.

I'm mainly reacting to one comment from a few weeks back that basically said, "She lied about where she was that day. Her cellphone pings show her on Sauvie Island so that proves she killed the boy and went to Sauvie Island to bury him."


I think there is a great deal that the police have not mad public and there is also probably a great deal that those investigating do not know. None of us may ever know what happened to this little boy. Sometimes crimes and disappearances are not solved.

Stop posting 'Richard Jewell.' We all understand the attempted metaphor, even though the cases have no similarities whatsoever.

Remember the O.J.!

It all depends how things come out in the wash during the divorce proceedings, but she probably has a right to a large chunk of the equity in the home as well as any investments/stock that her Intel engineer soon-to-be ex might have. Houze probably had her sign a note secured by her share of the equity in the home, and/or possibly she had a high credit line on a credit card to get things started. Possibly, he came to the house so he could see what kind of condition it was in and to meet Mom and Dad so they could sign a note as well. Criminal defense attorneys need to be creative when it comes to having their bills paid. Murder suspects often don't have $100,000 retainers laying around in their bank accounts, so if you are a high priced criminal defense attorney and want to get work (there are only so many Trail Blazers around to keep you busy) you do what you can to keep paying clients coming in the door with flexible financing arrangements.

I agree with Bill that (1) it makes no sense that she killed the boy and (2) there could be a credible reason unrelated to Kyron's disappearance as to why she was at Sauvie Island and lied about it. Yes, the 5 year old body builder pic is scary, but there are millions of body builders in the world and they don't kill people.

Awful though it is to admit, children are at greater risk from their closest relatives than anybody. So, they are the obvious first place to look. Close relative, last known carer, inconsistent statements? I think some of you guys are looking for a zebra on this one.

I'm still hoping that, if she did it, it was some sort of accident - such as running the boy over at the school parking lot when he ran out to tell her something, or that he'd forgotten something - and that she panicked, and took the body to Sauvie Island. It does seem curious how everything seems to be not only pointing to her, but isolating her. It's almost as if the Sheriff's office is trying to force her into a confession, but could it end up as a suicide? And, what if, as Bill posits, she is innocent?

I'm with Bill McDonald on this. As tempting and easy as it is to stick the stepmom with this, there are plenty of predators out there who could be guilty. And when I say plenty, I do mean that. A few years ago, out of idle curiosity, I looked at the registered sex offender list for my zip code in Portland. I don't recall having any preconceived notion of how many offenders would be on the list, but I do recall being blown away by how many there were. Maybe I live in a particularly creepy zip code (97206), but I doubt any zip codes in Portland are immune. And it's particularly chilling to think that these are the registered offenders; who knows how many haven't been caught and prosecuted? Sure, it seems strange and unlikely that Kyron was grabbed at school by a stranger, but strange and unlikley things do happen, way more often than any of us would like to think about.

It's interesting to me that you figure if the step-mom did it, it had to start with some sort of unplanned development. I have that same feeling. Let's say she was planning Kyron's death. Think of all the opportunities she would have as his step-mom to concoct and carry out a safer plan. She had lots of access to the kid.
Yet, the planned theory relies on her going to a school full of other parents and kids and hoping - but not knowing - that she wasn't seen as she leaves with Kyron.
She's going to risk her life on this when she doesn't have to? It doesn't make sense.

This is not to say that things that don't make sense never happen, but she doesn't seem crazy in that dumb way. She's going to kill the kid while hoping nobody at the school saw her as she left with him, and the teacher would react like she did with the absence? That's hard to believe.

So we're left with the unplanned theory. But then you have to throw out the CSI t-shirt and a bunch of other damning details as just unfortunate coincidences for her.

What I see is people jumping between these 2 theories depending on which one supports the detail being discussed at the moment.

Meanwhile, imagine a predator searching for a place to find a kid. Wouldn't they go where they can separate one from the herd under the cover of being a parent? They don't have ready access so they have to take a chance. That's why serial killers hunt in parks. Didn't Wesley Dodd kidnap one victim right from Hawthorne? Couldn't a man driving around notice the science fair and see it as an opportunity? Maybe he researched it. Maybe it's one of the other parents.

Kyron wasn't just another charming kid. I looked at the pictures on the Oregonian site and actually shed a tear. This kid was unusually charismatic and happy looking. Full of joy. Maybe that played to the worst instincts in one of the sick bastards that roam around fighting urges to grab a child. Maybe the CSI shirt triggered that one extra criminal thought. Maybe the predator said to himself, "You know this is a perfect setting for a crime."

I'm not saying that's what happened. I don't know.
I just think that's a more plausible theory. And I'm not saying she's innocent. I'm just saying there are some problems with the theory that she's guilty. Wesley Allen Dodd didn't have to turn into a child killer. He arrived evil. He was hard-wired that way.
But let's just say, the step-mom began plotting this after something broke in her head.

When she called the school and 911 that afternoon, how could she know the school wouldn't immediately say, "We were going to call you but so and so saw you leaving with him"? Why would she plan it that way? It doesn't make sense.

she probably has a right to a large chunk of the equity in the home

That house doesn't look too valuable. And who knows what this couple does with its finances?

I'm not saying that's what happened. I don't know. I just think that's a more plausible theory.

I don't see the kid wandering off with a stranger. And I don't see him getting grabbed inside a grammar school on a busy morning and dragged out without him screaming bloody murder.

If he's not still in that school building, he left with someone he knew.

Any equity they have in the home will be quickly consumed by legal expenses.

Home equity is illiquid, unless they have a previously established HELOC or they can sell the home quickly.

I assume that any liquid funds have already been deposited as a retainer fee and/or escrow account at Esq. Houze's and/or Rackner's bank.

Opinions vary on how good Houze really is with a jury, but no doubt he always wins for himself, partially, in my view, because the public craves celebrity.

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